Invitation to Love

Thomas Keating, Invitation to Love: The Way of Christian Contemplation. New York: Continuum, 1995. 151 pages
A Synopis

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Chapter 18. The Last Four Beatitudes

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. This beatitude corresponds to mental egoic consciouswhere we become fully human and "our response to life is cooperative, nonjudgmental, and accepting of others. It points beyond loving our neighbor as ourselves to "Love one another as I have loved you." As Keating says, "To love one another as Jesus loves us is to love one another in our humanness - in our individuality and opinionatedness, in personality conflicts and in unbearable situations." To be merciful is to spread love to the larger community and also to practice compassion toward ourselves.

As we move along the spiritual journey, and especially through the practice of contemplative prayer, "grace reaches down into the depths of our psyche, empowering it to unload the emotional damage and debris of a lifetime." Then God can relate to us through intuition rather than just the senses, memory, imagination, reason, and our acts of will. In the purity of this level of consciousness all our relationships change, and so does our way of seeing. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God "with the eyes of the spirit purified by faith."

But even this level is not without its trial, the night of spirit, during which we long for the level of union with God. The seventh beatitude, Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God, is addressed to this level of consciousness. Peace is the tranquillity of order. "The right order of human nature consists in the effective integration of our emotional and rational lives into our intuitive faculties and the surrender of our unified nature to God in love." Though we become God-like, we do not become God. Rather, the tendency is to live an ordinary, unassuming life, not drawing attention to ourselves but simply becoming, like God, the servants of creation.

The eighth beatitude, Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, belongs to a higher level, the stage of perfect wisdom. "In this extraordinary world view, persecution endured for God is the peak of happiness." Persons who are so called "not only enter into the peace of Christ but also become sources of the divine life and peace for others."

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